Let’s face it, in Britain we don’t get perfect riding weather all the time, far from it, but should you stop riding just because the weather turns nasty? Of course not!

This post will offer you some simple pointers to help you avoid mistakes and potential accidents when having to ride in adverse weather conditions.

 

Rain

If you can avoid it, don’t ride in the first 30 minutes of a shower, especially after a long period of dry weather. In dry weather, a fine layer of oil, debris and dirt accumulates on the road, and when disturbed by fresh rain, this layer becomes greasy and slippery. Wait at least half an hour for this greasy layer to wash to the side of the road before heading out.

Once on the road, always aim for smooth control. Balance your grip and stay gentle with the throttle and brakes and remember that you should use even front and rear brake pressure on a wet road. When taking corners, aim to complete your turn before accelerating away or else you risk your rear wheel sliding out from under you.

Avoid any kind of last-minute reactions to prevent the risk of skidding on wet roads, remember what you were taught about braking distances.

Avoiding hazards is very important in the rain, this can be achieved while maintaining a smooth riding style by looking further out at the road ahead.

Hazardous obstacles include:

  • Manhole covers
  • Smooth concrete surfaces
  • Road markings
  • Tram tracks (Those who’ve been to the Isle of Man TT will know this one all too well!)
  • Puddles
  • Potholes
  • Oil spills

 

Hot weather

A rare occurrence, but one to keep in mind none the less! Keep yourself hydrated during hot weather, if you have a pannier, top box or saddle bag, stash away some water and pull over somewhere safe if you’re feeling parched. You should also dress appropriately to maintain an even body temperature, but this does not mean skimping on protection. Consider breathable textile motorcycle jackets or vented or perforated leather.

As a motorcyclist, you should be at little risk of sunburn as your skin isn’t be exposed (or shouldn’t be, at least!), your eyes however are. Dazzling and road blindness are a very real concern to motorcyclists, but fortunately there are a few options:

  • Sunglasses – The obvious choice, but can be tricky to use with a helmet, especially if they are the chunky framed variety.
  • Tinted visor – If your helmet comes with swappable visors, a tinted one is an ideal choice for sunny weather, but beware, you can be stopped by the police for using a tinted visor as most are technically illegal. If you are going to use a tinted visor, bring a clear one with you so that you can swap it if the weather turns overcast or the police take exception to your choice of eye protection.
  • Retractable sun visor – This is the ideal middle ground between legal and convenient. Some helmets come with a sun-visor built in, and with the flick of a switch, can be retracted and withdrawn when needed without ever having to stop.

 

Hail

It is not at all safe and in fact can be very painful to ride during a hailstorm. If you are caught out however, look for shelter and wait until conditions improve before you set off again.

 

Wind

Strong winds can create big problems for motorcyclists. Wind blowing at only 25 mph or more can make for tricky riding, even if the weather is otherwise good. To combat gusts, try to make yourself  more aerodynamic by leaning down and keep the motorcycle on the side of the lane the wind is coming from so you don’t end up bring swept onto the wrong side of the road. In case of gusting side winds, you will have to take some extra precautions, especially if you’re crossing a river bridge or passing a large truck. Here are some tips for road safety during bad winds:

Slow down – At a slow speed, the motorbike is more stable and is therefore easier to control.

Knee tank grip - Push inwards with your feet, knees and hands, to maintain a good grip of your bike.

Don’t panic – Do not overreact to harsh winds. The key to overcoming a gusting wind is to stay calm and ride smoothly.

 

To reduce the risks taken by riding in adverse conditions, avoid riding altogether but if you must go out on two wheels, remain alert of your surroundings and always stay calm.